Here, Dan Cox, Interactive’s General Manager of Public Cloud, shares his thoughts and insights regarding some of the key findings in this ADAPT study, as well as how this time has affected cloud migration more broadly and what the future holds.
According to ADAPT’s study, there’s a huge predicted increase in the ongoing demand for cloud, with 89% of respondents saying their cloud workloads are likely to increase. Have you found this to be the case?
Yes, absolutely. This is an interesting one. I foresee there will actually be a few distinct waves of cloud migration triggered by this last year. In the first phase, it was all about rapid cloud adoption in order to support large-scale remote working and keep costs down. Demand for software and infrastructure consumed via a service-based model has skyrocketed.
Now, we’re seeing a second wave in which businesses are assessing where they’re at, how cloud works for them, and where they can best utilise and evolve their cloud assets.
For many businesses, this is a ‘commit or quit’ phase, and some may revert to their old, on-premise infrastructure.
Finally, I believe there’ll be a phase in which the businesses that do opt to stick with cloud will take it to the next level. In this phase it will be all about integration. Businesses will realise that their cloud provider offers hundreds of services that they can easily connect with and start to utilise. The hardest part of cloud can be getting started, and once you’ve got the flywheel spinning, it makes sense to keep it going.
What the biggest shift in the approach to cloud that you’ve seen this year?
The biggest shift we’re seeing is how businesses are prioritising costs over everything else. Cost has now leapfrogged other concerns like security, which would ordinarily be number one. For this reason, an increasing number of clients are approaching us for advice on optimising their cloud as a way of reducing costs.
The ADAPT study also said that 61% of businesses planned to repatriate their workloads back from the cloud when people are back working in centralised offices. Do you think this will actually happen, or do you think cloud will prove its worth for many of these businesses?
I agree with the notion but doubt it will be this high in reality. We know that many businesses have a preference to ‘fail back’ when it comes to cloud. Old habits die hard, and even though cloud got many businesses through a panicked transition to remote working, many may now be re-assessing whether they need it going forward. This is the ‘commit or quit’ phase I mentioned earlier.
In reality, however, I believe many businesses will stay with cloud for a few key reasons. Firstly, many won’t be able to justify the cost of going backwards. Secondly, while the traditional office space will still exist, many people will remain working from home in much greater numbers than before, which will necessitate continued use of cloud-based solutions. And thirdly, I firmly believe businesses will start to realise the incredible benefits that cloud can deliver, and how easily cloud assets can be integrated to provide overarching insight and efficiency.
What does the rapid uptake of cloud mean for clients from a security perspective?
Traditionally, businesses ensure security by protecting the four walls of their physical office or data centre and bringing employees and guests into a secure environment. Now, these ‘four walls’ are people’s homes, and there are thousands of them, spread all over the country. This can be a real heartache for a CIO.
To ensure security, IT teams need to move away from perimeter security, and consider Zero Trust networks and platforms with in-built protections at their core. Data sovereignty is another very important consideration – if employees are taking data out of the office, is there a risk that it could end up off-shore?
Are there any other problems that clients are experiencing due to rapid cloud migration?
Yes, absolutely. The sudden move to cloud has placed an enormous burden on IT teams, many of which are now struggling to manage new and different systems, processes and infrastructure. They’re also being tasked with reducing costs, which is incredibly difficult. As a result, IT teams may be slower and more ineffective, and this is a risk to the business as a whole
Even before the rush to the cloud, it wasn’t uncommon for clients to be wasting a significant portion of their cloud spend. Now it’s even more so.
Many businesses also haven’t optimised their cloud from a cost perspective, and so are paying far more than they need to. This might be because they haven’t assigned the right workloads to the right environment, or they’re over-provisioned in some areas. Or they might also be paying for workloads that are no longer operational. This is another area where Interactive can come in, assess the client’s cloud infrastructure, and help them significantly reduce their costs.
The ADAPT study also talks about ‘Cloud Economics’ and how it can be used as a model to get non-technical people within the business on board. What does this mean and how does it work?
Cost has always been a barrier to cloud adoption – largely because it can be hard for businesses to quantify the benefits. In reality, when used well, cloud can help businesses work faster, improve customer service, enable more productive teams and more collaborative ways of working, and much more. However, for a business that’s being mindful of its IT budget, many of these benefits may seem too vague or hard to measure.
So, at Interactive, we often help customers develop a business case based on cloud economics, and on understanding – in detail – how a move to cloud can generate savings for the business, both in the short and long-term. Technical teams, or cloud ‘champion’ teams, can then use this economic rationale to justify and push for a cloud investment.
What things can businesses do to ensure they can turn their cloud adoption into a long-term strategy?
Perhaps the most important thing business leaders can do is ensure peace of mind that their cloud environment is secure and optimised. This can be achieved in just a few days with partners like Interactive. It ensures businesses are not wasting money, and that they have a solid foundation upon which to build.
70% of respondents for the ADAPT survey said reducing costs was their #1 priority. What key steps should businesses take to ensure that cloud does actually deliver the cost savings they’re looking for?
Cost optimisation isn’t a one-time activity and cloud should never be a ‘set and forget’ investment. It requires continuous improvement. Our on-demand webinar, ‘Stop Wasting Money in the Cloud’ provides tips on how to get started here. This is also where a partnership with Interactive can help. As part of our managed services offering, we provide regular touch-points and proactive advice on the things our clients can to do optimise their costs, security and governance.
What are some of the most notable changes in industries you’ve seen since the pandemic?
I think virtually every sector of the Australian economy has been hit in some way by the pandemic. The impact has been incredible. Most businesses aren’t looking to make big capital outlays right now, but they’re also calling out for cloud-based solutions to enable innovation and effective customer service. The financial services sector was already being disrupted by the rapid growth of fintech organisations, and now, the need for existing players to embrace cloud in order to stay relevant – and to cut costs – is even more pronounced. And for the media and entertainment sector, which has been crippled by the pandemic in so many ways, cloud offers a bit of a lifeline – a way for people to consume entertainment remotely.
The next period will be very interesting and critical as businesses re-consider ways of working, and topics such as resilience become top of mind. Embracing the agility and cost-effectiveness of cloud, and having a real focus on innovation, is going to be more important than ever before. My team and I are always happy to have a chat and learn more about your cloud ambitions.
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